Tiger, tiger, burning bright …

Exactly an year ago, one of India’s then celebrated entrepreneurs, made a confession that his entrepreneurial journey was indeed “… like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”. His admission on 7th January 2009 that he committed a series of gigantic frauds (more than a billion dollar) shook India and the world. Newspapers and magazines were filled with stories and the role of independent directors was questioned. A few men under the direction of the government of India did a commendable job in taking control of the beleaguered enterprise and it took another Indian entrepreneur to get that tainted business back on track. All is well that ends well, but not for the Rajus or his auditors who are still languishing in the jail. If auditors are the legendary watch dogs, perhaps this variety did not have the olfactory nerves to smell a tiger! Are tigers so difficult to smell?

Talking of another Tiger, no one could smell him until he spilled his beans. We were in for a rude shock before the dawn of the New Year. This celebrated sports person who carefully cultivated his image did finally live up to the tagline of his sponsors – “high performance delivered”. A freak accident uncovered his indiscretions and multiple infidelities. The man himself confessed to transgressions and low moral values. As a brand ambassador to one of the marquee names in consulting he raked in millions of dollars. Accenture for six long years used his achievements on the golf course as a powerful metaphor for business. Unsuspectingly they overplayed the ‘tiger’card’ – at airports, magazines and even in their work places challenging their employees “Go on, be a Tiger” Little did the global consulting giant know that their Tiger really lived up to their catchy phrases “It is what you do next that counts” or “Opportunity is not always obvious”, albeit in a secret world of his own.

Tiger Woods, let them down – Accenture, Buick, Nike, Gillette, American Express, TAG Heuer – and the scores of children supported by his foundation. Our Raju let down thousands of unsuspecting people and the charities he was running. When you compare these two personalities – Tiger Woods I haven’t met him, but Raju – I have many times (who hasn’t) – there is a striking resemblance in their ability to live two lives ( or even more) at the same time, cultivating an image that borders on perfection. Both are immensely wealthy. Those of you who have met Raju can relate to what I am saying, in hindsight of course. They must have enjoyed the perverse pleasure of their misdeeds, more importantly the power of being not discovered. One step at a time and you get emboldened to push yourself into your own secret world of cunningness and self admiration as you transgress more and more and still enjoying the thrill of not getting caught. Looking at the world, on the sly, in an utterly contemptuous manner enjoying one’s own superior performance in a game where you blatantly without shame cheat other players.

We have many more such people in our society who pass off as paragons of virtue. They have secret fangs that unleash their venom and torment unsuspecting and gullible people. William Blake in his beautiful poem “The Tiger” gives us a glimpse of the creator. Blake is baffled that the God who created the gentle lamb also created the terrifying tiger.

If you are not familiar with the poem, please take look at line 4 of stanza 1 and line 4 of stanza 6

Stanza 1

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Stanza 6

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

The poet in stanza six , is no longer asking who had the capability of creating the tiger ( as he does in stanza one) but who dared to create so frightful a creature. But Blake must now be turning in his grave as he couldn’t have imagined the power of the creator to fuse a frightful creature into a gentle lamb.

2 thoughts on “Tiger, tiger, burning bright …

  1. We are all flawed in some way or an other. And one of the typical tendencies is to snigger at someone else’s misfortunes (Schadenfreude). We make heroes and put them up on a pedestal, then without a second thought, pull them down and stomp on them. I can’t help feel sorry for Tiger Woods. He may have not indulged in so many “indiscretions” but for his fame with his clubs(!) Once in the limelight, he had no choice but to conceal them and then along with his tooth and his Escalade, everything got broken…We may have to learn to accept slight imperfections in largely “perfect” specimens!

  2. From whatever little I know of these two stalwarts one thing is for sure, they did a lot of things that no ordinary man could have. The start of their career & the building of their organisations was not flawed, otherwise they would have never reached the heights! But now we need to also know that somehow the society first needs to address the issue of how to let the charitable work continue & not let it die. Both still have the money & I would say maybe the same good thought with which they started the missions! Rather than writing them off I would say we should punish them for wrong doings & help them support the good cause that they started.

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